By Adrian Gonzalez
Ciudad Bolivar: Brief overview with three policy prescriptions for improving its quality of life
Ciudad Bolivar is one of twenty localities in the City of Bogota, Colombia. Bolivar locality is administered by its own mayor (appointed by the city-wide mayor of Bogota) and a local junta of eleven elected members. Its official population is 713,764, about 10% of Bogota’s population (Bogota Government, 2008), though other estimates place the number at closer to 1 million residents (Bogota at the Edge, 2004). The locality encompasses approximately 230 square kilometers, but only 12% (or 27.6 square kilometers) is urban (Bogota Government, 2008). That translates into a density of 25,833 persons per square kilometer using the official figure above. Its density increases to 36,232 persons per square kilometer if the estimated figure of 1 million is used.
The majority of its residents (94.5%) are classified by Colombia’s official statistical agency as being poor or very poor (Bogota Government, 2008). Two thirds rely on some form of public assistance (Bogota Government, 2008). The majority of residents (66%) are 30 years of age or younger, with 5 to 9 year olds making up 13% of the total population (Wikipedia, 2008). This means that for every working-age person, there are 6 non-working age youths, a large amount of dependents for the locality’s adults. Most of the residents have employment through the informal sector. They either rent out space or use the ground floor of their homes for light manufacturing or preparing and selling food.
Coping and Response
One of Ciudad Bolivar’s primary constraints is a lack of green spaces. It offers the least amount of all of Bogota’s localities (1.94 square meters of green space per person) (Bogota on the Edge, 2004). The youth of the locality deal with this constraint primarily by playing on its streets, many of which are not paved. To address the lack of space, the locality’s junta should consider three options. First, reclaim unused areas and convert them into parks. Unused areas are land parcels that were either previously occupied or currently there is no development on them. However, competing demands on the limited number of space and locations of unused land may make this unviable. Second, the locality should consider conditional cash transfers to mothers. Third, in conjunction with this initiative, certain streets may be closed to traffic during the evenings, converting them into temporary green spaces.
This article is a product of Professor Shagun Mehrotra’s Global Urban Environmental Policy class. Views expressed are entirely those of the individual author
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